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  One Piece Flow

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Beating Down the Batch Production Issues

Until now, I have never seen anything better than OPF in terms of: Efficiency, cooperation, economy, and the most important: Product Flow! This is the antagonist of the traditional "batch" flow. Batch production is one of the problems that many industries are still facing today. Perhaps not all the products can be made in a One Piece Flow, but the message is clear, batches must be reduced in size if you really want to increase your efficiency, and who does not?

What can OPF Do For YOU and Your Company?

This is something really simple and very valuable, the changes in individual mindsets and general companywide culture need to be assimilated, but the results can be seen in just a few days. This strategy uses a combination of Lean Manufacturing tools.  

  • First of all we need to take an objective view of each production area. Each unit (product) should be easily transferred from one operation to the next as soon as each operation has been finished. In the past, we would accumulate a certain number of units before handing them to the next operation. 

  • Next consideration is not to supply the next operation any material they can't take and work on immediately. It is also critical not to starve the next workstation. This may require for us to start "balancing" the amount of work-time devoted to operations in each work-station. If someone is finishing faster and needs to wait for the previous operation, that person probably needs to absorb a part of the work of that previous operation. The purpose is to bring as close as possible the "cycle time" of each work-station.

  • The speed at which each product unit needs to travel from one operation to the next will be determined by the "Takt Time" that is a result of the available time in the work-day or in the shift (usually measured in seconds), divided by the number of parts to be produced. 
  • Example: If you need to produce 1,200 parts in a period of 7.5 working hours, then you divide: 27,000 seconds by 1,200. Your Takt time is 22.5 seconds. This means that each workstation must be capable of processing a unit in no more than 22.5 seconds. if the operation can't be divided and is very labor intensive, requiring 64 seconds for example, you will need three operators equally trained and equipped to satisfy your takt time in parallel work-stations performing that same operation.

  • Of course there are also some changes in the processes that can help our associates do the work easier and faster, without compromising safety or quality. Each one of the operators should participate with their creativity and experience to produce these improvements.

  • Speaking of quality, one valuable characteristic of Lean Manufacturing is the concept change between the old "quality control" into the current "quality assurance". The difference is that in quality assurance each individual is his-her own inspector, and also verifies that the previous operation was done right. This is called "Jidoka - ZQC - Zero Quality Control - Autonomous Quality" and is one of the Key Principles of the TPS - Toyota Production System.

  • One more critical part of this new process is the logistics that will be required to provide each person with the materials they need at the time they need them. Please see POUS - Point of Use Storage.

This website does not substitute the advise of a consultant. I am personally one, and the purpose of this network is to help individuals and Companies get started. Some small manufacturing or service operations will immediately benefit from this process and perhaps grow to the point where they will need and be able to afford direct Lean Manufacturing consulting.

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